PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO THE TAIL OF THE DRAGON REGION

We get many questions from people interested in heading this way to enjoy our great roads. Hopefully this page will provide some hints that will make your trip even better. Print it off and use it as a checklist.

CLICK HERE for off Accommodation Discounts

DO MOST OF YOUR PLANNING BEFORE YOU HEAD THIS WAY

You can maximize your riding/driving time if you plan your routes at home. The Internet is a great source of information.

  • Visit our touring page at TailoftheDragonTours.com for numerous routes with information on places to visit, where to stay, good dining, road conditions, maps and more. We have details on both paved and gravel dual sport/Jeep routes.
  • Visit our map page for printable area maps on TailoftheDragonMaps.com. Make sure everyone in your group has a map to where you are staying …. and uses it !
  • By using our Touring information you can plan most of your trip right on your computer.
  • Print out the maps and the entire page for reference when you get here.

UP TO DATE ROAD CONSTRUCTION/CLOSURE INFORMATION


HOW TO GET TO THE TAIL OF THE DRAGON AND CHEROHALA SKYWAY


GPS COORDINATES

  • Tail of the Dragon (intersection of US129 & NC28 one mile south of the TN/NC state line)
    35.466715,-83.920251
    or use street address 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
    NOTE:  Using street address does not always produce the correct results.  Also search for the intersection of US129 and NC28.
  • Cherohala Skyway 35.345333, -83.89465 (North Carolina)
    or use street address for Cherohala Skyway Visitor’s Center in Tellico Plains TN: 225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN 37385
  • Moonshiner 28 (intersection of US129 & NC28 one mile south of the TN/NC state line)
    35.466715,-83.920251
    or use street address 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
    NOTE:  Using street address does not always produce the correct results.  Also search for the intersection of US129 and NC28.
  • Devils Triangle (Oliver Springs TN)
    36.0472, -84.346683
  • Six Gap North Georgia (north end US129 & GA180)
    34.77185, -83.914183


WHEN TO VISIT

The Dragon is Federal Highway US 129 and is free for the public to enjoy at any time. It may be closed for short periods due to downed trees, rock slides or when the highway is blocked by accidents. For the most part it is open year round. WE WILL POST ALL CLOSURES ON OUR FRONT PAGE.

The primary season is April through October. March and November can be iffy, especially in the higher elevations of the Cherohala, Blue Ridge Parkway and US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

CLICK HERE for fall color touring information including leaf reports, photos, videos, maps and more.

Winter months can be cold and snowy, but there are some days warm enough to ride. Cars can have the roads to themselves in the winter. Visit our Weather Page for current conditions and more details.

HOW LONG TO STAY

It takes a full week to get the most out of all area roads. Spend a full day on the Dragon/Cherohala Loop, a full day for the Moonshiner 28, a full day for North Georgia Six Gap, a full day for the southern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Diamondback, and a full day for the Devils Triangle.

If you plan to run the Snake in Shady Valley you need to plan an over-nighter there. It’s close to 200 miles from the Dragon. Another over-nighter might include staying near Asheville and running the Gambler (Hot Springs) and Roan Mountain areas in addition to the Diamondback. These roads are over a 100 miles from the Dragon.

You might be able to catch some of these either on your way here or on your way home. Here is a map showing the locations of these roads.

WHERE TO STAY

There are a wide variety of accommodations in our area. These range from basic tent camping to exclusive mountain top resorts.

The Tennessee side of the Smokies offers more for families and people interested in night life and other recreational pursuits.

  • THE GOOD – Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have hundreds of motels and cabins. There are also many tourist attractions and places to eat.
  • THE BAD – Crowds and longer rides to get to the great roads.

The North Carolina side is much more rural if you want to get away from the crowds.

  • THE GOOD – You are close to the great roads and no crowds.
  • THE BAD – A lot less in the way of recreational/dining options.

Accommodation reservations are recommended, especially on weekends and holidays. North Georgia is much like the North Carolina area with reasonable lodging rates. Choose from camping, RV parks, reasonably priced apartments, chain motels, locally owned motels, cabins, and resorts. Visit our accommodation page at TailoftheDragonResorts.com for motorcycle and sportcar friendly places in all of these areas. If you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway you should plan ahead. There are very few accommodations on this limited access scenic byway.

MAKE SURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE/CAR IS READY

It may sound like common sense, but we have seen people get here and spend more time wrenching than riding.

  • Make sure you have good tires, brakes, proper fluid levels, etc.
  • Get a tune-up.
  • If you do need some help, we have some excellent service and repair shops at Wheelers Performance.
  • For Harley riders check out Smoky Mountain Harley in Maryville and Pigeon Forge.
  • Also make sure you have your motorcycle safely secured in the trailer. Check it at every stop. We have seen people arrive with bikes totaled after falling off the trailer on the Interstate.
  • Make sure the trailer has good tires properly inflated.
  • See our Motorcycle Resources page for more information.
  • Visit How to Ride the Dragon and How to Drive the Dragon.


MOTORCYCLE RENTALS

All types of bikes from dual sport, cruisers, sport tourers and sport bikes are available in our area. Some even deliver to your location, for more information, see our Motorcycle Resources page for more information.

PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL

These mountains can get pretty dark at night. We highly recommend arriving at your primary destination in the daylight. Many of the mountain towns shut down at 9 pm. Plan for dinner before that. Some areas are dry making it necessary to travel for an hour to buy alcoholic beverages. BE AWARE Travel times are much greater on these mountain back roads. In some cases a thirty mile trip might take an hour.

WHERE TO EAT

You really take your chances eating “on the fly”. Whenever possible we search for good places on Trip Advisor before hitting the road. One clue to good food that we have found is looking to see how many cars are in the parking lot. We’ve lucked into a couple of excellent places that way. We have some recommendations on the Regional Accommodations & Businesses.

WHAT TO WEAR

We highly recommend leathers, gloves, and full face helmets. As for clothing, bring some warm clothes even in the summer for the higher elevations. Temps at 5,000 feet can be 10-15 degrees cooler. Need to purchase some gear while you are here? Visit Motorcycle Rentals & Repairs. page for places to purchase accessories.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

There are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay. Rent a pontoon boat and experience our crystal clear mountain lakes surrounded by unspoiled forest. Or try trout fishing, hiking or white water rafting. Visit our Other Things To Do page to help plan an activity.

SAFETY

We purchased a SPOT and have it on all the time we are on the road. A friend has access by computer to view where we are and where we have been. If riding alone this could save you life. There have been a number of cases where rider/drivers went off the road and were not found for days or even weeks. Many locations here are remote and not heavily traveled. Tell someone each day where you plan to ride. Keep in touch with loved ones so they don’t call us in a panic looking for you. Remember that dangers can be just around the corner. Wildlife such as bears, wild hogs, turkeys and deer are fairly common. Downed trees can be a hazard too, even in good weather.

CELL PHONES

Cell phone reception is hit or miss in the mountains. For the most part it’s a miss. Don’t rely on them. Verizon has the best coverage here.

THE LAW

Riding our roads is not a track day. If you are ticketed it will cost you more than a track day. Many of the roads such as the Dragon, the Snake, the Cherohala, and Six Gap are regularly patrolled. At times there will be LEO (law enforcement officer) saturation. Smart riders can spot this and ride more cautiously. In North Carolina watch your speed on the 4-lanes. And remember that many locals are volunteers with radios in their beat-up trucks. They often report speeders and reckless drivers. Helmets are required in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. For more information on the area law enforcement visit our Area Law Enforcement Page. If you need some legal help, we recommend the following area attorneys:

NEED A LAWYER IN NORTH CAROLINA?

PHOTOGRAPHERS ON THE DRAGON

When you get home, order your photos from the Killboy photographers stationed at the Dragon and occasionally on the Moonshiner and  Cherohala Skyway. It takes 3-4 days to post the photos which will be posted by date on the photographer’s website. They archive the photos for years. Visit Killboy.com to purchase your photos online.